© Reuters. File photo of the skyline of the banking district in Frankfurt, September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
By Carolyn Cohn and Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – Major investors, including hedge fund Man Group and British asset manager abrdn, said on Tuesday they were cutting their positions in Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Their pronouncements came as shares in some European banks steadied after heavy declines on Monday because of lenders’ exposure to Russia, but the sector remained volatile as Moscow started day six of its invasion.
British asset manager abrdn has around two billion pounds of client money invested in Russia and Belarus and has been cutting its positions, Chief Executive Stephen Bird said.
“We will not invest in Russia and Belarus for the foreseeable future,” Bird said.
Hedge fund Man Group cut its investments in Russia in recent weeks and now has ‘negligible’ exposure to Russia and Ukraine across its portfolio, its Chief Financial Officer Antoine Forterre told Reuters on Tuesday.
The London-based fund first cut exposure to the region in its discretionary emerging markets fund in December, he said, before the hedge fund’s other strategies began reducing risk in the last two weeks.
Shares of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International were up 0.3% in early trade, steadying after sliding 14% on Monday. Shares of Italy’s UniCredit rose 3.1%, after Monday’s 9.5% fall.
The European Central Bank has put banks with close ties to Russia, such as Raiffeisen and the European arm of Russia’s VTB, under close observation following sweeping financial sanctions by the West that have already pushed one Russian lender over the edge, two sources told Reuters.
Tuesday’s share price swings and investor comments came as Russia faced increasing isolation over its invasion of Ukraine, with resistance on the ground denying President Vladimir Putin decisive early gains despite heavy shelling and a huge military convoy outside Kyiv.
Shares of leading banks rose with the European banking sector up 0.5%, after a 4.5% fall on Monday.
The London Stock Exchange said on Tuesday it would stop trading in two global depository receipts (GDRs) for VTB Bank after Britain’s financial regulator suspended them in response to sanctions.
Amid wild swings in bank shares, bankers have sought to reassure investors and the public, saying they are well capitalised and that their footprints in Russia are relatively small.
Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) Chief Executive Christian Sewing told the Bild newspaper that it would be wrong to assume a quick resolution to the crisis in Ukraine following the exclusion of Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system.
“That would be the wrong expectation,” Sewing said.
Investors cut Russia exposure amid Ukraine crisis; banks slide
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